British-American Project

The British-American Project is a fellowship of over 1,000 leaders and opinion formers from a broad spectrum of occupations, backgrounds and political viewpoints, drawn in equal numbers from the United States and the United Kingdom. The Project was created to renew and continue the close relationship among leaders of the two countries that was established by an earlier generation during the Second World War; for that reason, it was originally known as the British-American Project for the Successor Generation. The first gathering took place in 1985.[1]

The Project meets annually for a four-day conference on a topic of current concern to both countries: ideas and experiences are exchanged, and friendships developed and strengthened. Each year, 24 new participants are selected from either side of the Atlantic, on the basis of service to their communities and professional achievement, and sponsored to attend the conference as Delegates. At the end of each conference, Delegates are elected Fellows of the Project. Fellows from past years attend the annual conferences at their own expense, with many returning in successive years.


According to Sir Charles Villiers, a British businessman, and the American Lewis Van Dusen, Jr., head of a major Philadelphia law firm and a Rhodes Scholar, who married a British woman from his time in England, the goal, or the dream, was to enable a younger generation to develop a multiplicity of transatlantic friendships like their own. This was what attracted Villiers to the concept of the British-American Project when he first heard of it in London, and it was what Van Dusen also liked when they first discussed it in Philadelphia. They founded the organization in 1985.

A US BAP organiser describes the BAP network as committed to "grooming leaders" while promoting “the leading global role that [the US and Britain] continue to play”.[2]

Annual event

Each year, 40 new participants are selected from a variety of backgrounds among the intellectual and influential society on both sides of the Atlantic. At the start of each year, each existing member can nominate people in the general age range of 28 to 40. The nomination processes are different in the U.S. and UK. The UK nominees are interviewed and tested: there are competitive debates, management games and personal presentations; U.S. nominees must submit letters of recommendation and have a separate process of selection.

Once selected, the Delegates attend the centerpiece of the British-American Project, its annual conference, held in November each year and alternating between the U.S. and the UK. In November 2009, this gathering took place in Edinburgh. The theme was "From Abundance to Scarcity – Sustainability and Development in the 21st Century". In November 2010, the conference was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, known as the place where the organization was conceived. At this conference, the British-American Project celebrated its 25th Anniversary.

The overarching goal of the yearly conference is to provide a wide range of issues (with a variety of presentation styles) to provoke thought and debate, to inform and challenge, and to foster greater understanding among participants about competing views on a topic. Discussions often grapple with the similarities and differences between the attitudes of representatives of the two countries to the issues addressed during the conference.


The British-American Project is now affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). The BAP operations are funded by donations from major corporations.[3] While acknowledging the connections made among journalists and the political class in the two countries, a 1999 article in The Observer noted critics saying it was another example of too much US influence in Britain. Participants have been highly favorable about the project.[3]

Notable members




Arts and media




  1. 1 2 3 4 Beckett, Andy (2008-11-04). "Friends in high places". The Guardian.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Pilger, John (13 December 2007). "Tainted hands across the water". New Statesman. Retrieved 2012-11-26.
  3. 1 2 Nick Cohen - Without Prejudice: "Cry freedom... and order a Big Mac - BAP conference", The Observer, 31 October 1999, hosted at Bilderberg website, accessed 17 June 2013
  4. Friends in high places - You won't have heard of the British-American Project, but its members include some of the most powerful men and women in the UK. Officially it exists to promote the 'special relationship', but it has been described as a Trojan horse for US foreign policy. Even its supporters joke that it's funded by the CIA. Should we be worried? Andy Beckett reports
  5. Sourcewatch - British American Project
  6. 1 2 Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (17 March 2008). "This unhealthy strain of left-wing McCarthyism". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
  7. "Wannabe MP is wary of links with USA". East London Advertiser. 28 March 2008.
  8. British-American Project - about
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 The British American Project for the Successor Generation - Tom Easton - Lobster Magazine 1997
  10. Rowan Pelling (13 Nov 2007). "Subversive politics and honey traps never pall". The Telegraph.
  11. Daniel Drezner (November 12, 2003). "I'm off to join another secret cabal".
  12. Joel Stein (November 30, 2007). "Changing the world a drink at a time". Los Angeles Times.
  13. "The Governors". Ditchley Foundation. Archived from the original on 26 September 2006.
  14. Royal United Services Institute Fellows and Associates Archived March 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. Institute of Directors Archived August 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.

External links

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